Private prison companies are spending millions of dollars to lobby the U.S. government for harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels, a new report from the national social justice organization Grassroots Leadership reveals.
Entitled Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, the report’s release on Wednesday coincided with a renewed hunger strike at a privately-run immigrant detention center in southern Texas, where asylum-seeking mothers incarcerated with their children report inhumane conditions, including sexual assaults by prison guards and staff.
According to the report, for-profit companies are capturing an ever-increasing share of this immigrant detention center “market.” In 2009, 49 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds were run by for-profit companies. Today, that number stands at 62 percent.
Now 90 percent of the largest ICE detention centers in the U.S. are privately operated, the study finds.
Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, both notorious for human rights violations, dominate this rapidly growing industry, operating 72 percent of privately-operated ICE beds. This has brought the companies a windfall in profits: together they made nearly almost $478 million from ICE detentions in 2014 alone.